How about a hotkey for grid size?

I have been scanning the discussions of schematic grid. When I make symbols I am placing the pins on 0.05 grid and mostly use that when working on the schematic. When I used ExpressPCB for many years I learned to toggle the grid on and off using hotkey “G”. This is very useful for placing annotations and making symbols. Here in KiCad I find that a finer grid may also be good for selecting a block. For this purpose it would be great if I could toggle the grid (let’s say between 0.05 and 0.005 for example) with a hotkey but I do not see any way to do that. Am I missing any such shortcut?


this may be a relative bug -
If you can mark it affect you it.

In Pcbnew there is:
Pcbnew / View / Grid Settings
In there you can set 2 grid settings and you can switch between them with hotkeys.

Your question is about Eeschema (or is it about the Symbol Library Editor?)
For the last years most of the development time has gone into Pcbnew. Only recently Eeschema is seing significant development. (And it’s going fast). I expect these things will be improved with a bit of patience.

Drawing schematics with a grid finer then 50mil used to be buggy. There were problems with wires not getting connected to IC pins, but this probably has been resolved. Nonetheless, I normally se no reason to use fine grids, except for fine details such as drawing the arrows in transistors or the “squiggly lines” I did recently in the symbol for a Geiger Counter Tube.

For schematics and text placement it is probably more productive to ignore text placements most of the time, and then sometimes spend 5 to 10 minutes to alighn texts on a whole schematic.

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Thanks, Paulvdh

Yes I am referring to both Eeschema and symbol editor. I first got into KiCad a few years ago and designed a practice pcb; made gerbers and stopped. This time my project is bigger, slightly more real, and I have not gotten to pcb layout yet. In addition to making parts in symbol editor, it also seems to me that a finer grid is useful when defining a block for copying or moving in Eeschema. KiCad tends to grab more than I want when doing this, and the finer grid may help. Also fine grid for moving annotations. Regarding when to do what…I think there may be a lot of personal choice involved. When some things are not as I want (such as annotations overlaying something else) they tend to bother me until I fix it; this means changing grid size through the mouse menu.

I do want to mostly use 50 mil grid for drawing schematics.

FYI, in eeschema and the symbol editor, you can use Ctrl + Shift while moving a text to ignore the grid. Once positioned, don’t forget to click before releasing both keys or the text will snap back to the grid. Caution : Requires a recent 5.1 nightly build (this feature was broken, and fixed recently).

Thanks, Efcis.

It sounds like this capability is on the “radar screen” of the developers. That is good news. But I am not sure that I am the right person to be debugging the nightly builds. Is this capability described anywhere in more detail? For example: (block or individual symbols? Drag or move? Would I press Ctrl+Shift before or after first clicking on the part?)

Honestly, I can’t remember if it worked for the current stable (5.0.2). And AFAIK it is only related to texts (but you may try for other objects). So, with texts, when the mouse is over it, hit M (to Move), push Ctrl and Shift, and move your mouse. The text should move freely out of the grid. Once positioned, click the mouse and release Ctrl + Shift.

I was also unfamiliar with the [Ctrl + Shift] feature and started experimenting a bit:

1). Hover over some text.
2). Press “m” shortcut for “move” Something should now be attached to your cursor.
3). Press [Ctrl + Shift] MOving now disregards the trid.
4). Move mouse and click somewhere.

Your text has now an off-grid position.
This also works with schematic symbols, but connections depend on endpoints of green wires being aligned with attachment points of pins, so I highly recommend to place your components on a grid.

Edit: Ecis was faster with typing than I am.
I currently use KiCad V5.0.2 and it works in Eeschema.

It also works in the Symbol Library Editor, but KiCad has become a bit naughty lately and moves some text (such as RefDes) around when putting a library symbol in the schematic.

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Thanks, Efcis & paulvdh. I am using (5.0.2)-1

Well the M hotkey was not yet one which I was using. But if I do what you say I can tell that the (annotation in this case) reacts oddly when I depress Ctrl+shift. Instead of moving smoothly or snapping to the grid, it jitters rapidly in the area but I cannot place it off grid. It seems that the software somehow does not like it when I try that…

I will look at it more a little later…

I use a Dell laptop with the built in monitor and an external 1920 x 1080 display. Was running Eeschema on the external display. Just now I tried again with the built in monitor. Got same result. I am attaching a gif file showing what happens but I am not sure that the gif helps much.

You can disable this in the eeschema general options/editing/automatically place symbol fields

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I have a bit of a “duh!” to report. At the time I raised this issue I had not noticed that I could change grid size with a reverse click (for me with my marble mouse trackball setup it is a left click) and choose the grid. This is not quite as good as a toggle hotkey but it is significantly better than going to “preferences” in the top menu each time.

It may be just a brainfart, but it may also smell nice:

I had an Idea about having multiple grid resolutions simultaneously.
For example: When drawing wires or moving components in Eeschema you have a coarse grid (0.05), but when moving texts or values you have a fine grid.

For the Symbol Library Editor:
Pins can only be placed on a “0.1” grid, but lineart is placed on another grid.

When you take this idea further, you get to something similar to the DRC rules in Pcbnew, where a set of nets has it’s own rules for trace thickness and clearance.

Hi, Paulvdh

I think that you nailed a great idea. My thinking is that the user should be able to set both resolutions somewhere in the preferences. You would usually not see the finer grid unless you zoomed in. Maybe the software could automatically toggle the grid display according to whatever was active at that moment, but I am not sure whether that would be helpful. Why would you need to see the finer grid for moving text or values?

BTW I am presently using white lines and bright green symbol outlines on a black background. I think it is a little easier to see the grid this way. When Microsoft went to WYSIWYG black text on a white background many years ago, I disliked it but gradually became accustomed to it. I am still not sure of the advantage of mimicking dark ink on white paper, especially in a schematic diagram. I suspect that an optometrist might have something to say about which is easier to read.

What does “reverse click” mean - please?

Most people use a conventional mouse in what I guess is a right handed manner. (I am not really sure how a left handed person uses a conventional mouse.) That is to say that a left click is the main select function, while a right click selects the context menu. I use a “Logitech Marble” trackball with my right hand, and I do not do well doing a lot of clicking with my thumb. So I reverse the buttons in Windows mouse setup. For me, a right click is the main selection and a left click selects the context menu. If I say “right click” or “left click” it will be either inaccurate or confusing. What I mean by “reverse click” is clicking in a way which normally selects the context menu. The other possibility is that a reverse click could be a kcilc but that also will not be so helpful. Perhaps I could glue my finger to the mouse button and pull up? :slight_smile:

I’m a lefty and therefore I buy symmetrical mice.
I can not remember how long it took to get used to computermice, that was over 30 years ago. I do not use any special settings and use notmal conventions of [LMB] and [RMB]. I was also mistified by your “reverse mouse button”.

Once upon a time I had some slight RSI problems in my left wrist and started using my mouse with my right hand.That took a day or 2 (maybe a week?) to get used to, but after that I just switch without much preference for either.

You can train yourself to be amidextrous in most things (Except maybe for writing). Doing this conciously with small things (hold your toothbrush in the wrong hand) helps triggering a bit of brain pasticity (which is a good thing) and in time you will become less pronounced left / right handed.

About the grid size:
Having grid size automatically adjust to the zoom level may also be a very good idea.
Now the grid dots distance changes with zoom, and I think that having the grid snap adjust to the zoom level would also be very usefull.

It may even eliminate the juse for custom grids. You just zoom in to the grid size you want. Now KiCad (and other programs) zoom with the scroll wheel, which I like. Being able to adjust the grid size with pushing a mouse button and scrolling the wheel with another finger would be a nice feature also.

Experimented a bit with Eeschema. [Shift] modifies the scrollwheel function to vertical panning, and [Ctrl] modifies it to horizontal panning (Functions I never use).
I never pan conciously. I just zoom out of one section of the schematic (or PCB) and zoom in on another section.
[Alt] + Scrollwheel seems like a logical choice as a shortcut key for adjusting the grid size. It does not seem to have a special function.

The simplest to increment for programmers is probably to have configurable shortcuts (already implemented) for increasing and decreasing grid size, but you’d need to have some feedback on what the currently selected grid is. (Grid resolution is permanently visible in Pcbnew, but not (yet?) in Eeschema. A function like this is not high on my wishlist though, there ara many more serious issues on my wishlist.

Hi, Paulvdh.

I enjoy your comments…

My trackball does not have a scroll wheel. It does have 4 buttons and available Logitech software can presumably address this in conjunction with the buttons, but with recent Windows versions I find that this does not work satisfactorily.

I set up + and - keys to zoom, and I use these to zoom in and out in conjunction with centering around the mouse cursor. For what it is worth, I find that the scroll buttons image at the edges of the workspace generally do not work in KiCad and I wonder why that is. It is a minor annoyance and not a big problem.

Having grid size change automatically with zoom sounds worth trying. One thing which I do not like is that once a footprint has been moved off a 0.05 inch (for example) grid, it will not easily snap back onto that grid by itself. In some software, you can select that footprint while working in the coarse grid and it will automatically snap back to that grid.

Ooooh yes. My laptop has USB, Ethernet, HDMI, Power, and Headphone connectors all on the left side so is not particularly designed for left handed mouse operation.

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